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This is what a Vietnam Memorial photo set should look like…

November 23, 2010, 8:21 PM

I think I may have outdone myself with the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial set in Photography. I was quite pleased with the way the photos came out right after I shot them, and I was especially pleased with the way the whole set came out as a finished product on the Web site.

This certainly does a better job in showing the Vietnam Memorial than my previous attempt, in Part 5 of The Schumin Web Salutes America from 2001. The lighting is different, the Canon has far superior resolution than the original Mavica, and I’ve grown as a photographer and how things get displayed. Let’s admit it – the older photo set was a bit all over the place. I was operating under the assumption that it would be a very long time between visits to Washington, and so I went after a lot of stuff at once – probably too much. By the time I got to the Vietnam Memorial, I had already walked four-and-some miles, and so I was tired. The National Mall, by the way, is a lot longer than it looks, and I walked the entire length of it from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and about halfway back that day. So the effort was a bit lackluster due to my packing too much into a day.

By the way, I generally consider the older photo set from 2001 to be poor work by today’s standards despite all the effort that I put into it at the time, and a few retoolings of the photo set over the years. The older photo set does, however, show The Three Soldiers, which the newer photo set does not. I deliberately avoided the statues due to concerns over freedom of panorama as it applies to statues.

But with the new photo set, I believe I came up with a really sharp-looking set, playing with the names and the reflections off the stone walls. This one really gives the Vietnam Memorial what it is due. After all, there are thousands of names on there, each representing a person whose life was cut short by the ravages of war. We should never forget the sacrifice that these people made, even more so considering that unlike the modern military, many of these people were drafted into military service rather than volunteering as they do today.

And in publishing this new photo set, I couldn’t help but think about the hate mail that I received back in March 2007 from right-wing crazies loyal to Michelle Malkin. So many messages focused on people being concerned about the possibility of the Vietnam Memorial’s being vandalized during the March on the Pentagon. The memorial didn’t get vandalized, nor did I expect anyone would vandalize it. See, here’s the way I see it about war memorials, particularly one like Vietnam, and how it interacts with the modern anti-war movement. The names on the Vietnam Wall are what happens as a result of war. Sadly, there is nothing that anyone can do to bring these lives back. These people were victims of war just as much as anyone else. Thus this memorial to our fallen soldiers is something that all can respect, and any anti-war activist, anarchist or not, would be out of their mind to mess with it. The past is done, and we can’t change it. Regardless of whether the country was right to go to war in Vietnam in the first place, it happened, we can’t change the past, and, as mentioned, no one can bring these fallen soldiers back. Now the memorial exists to remember what happened in our history, so that in the future, we can learn from our past, so we do not repeat the events that led to the deaths of these soldiers, since no one wants to learn that their son, father, brother, etc. will not be coming home again.

So thanks for letting me get that off my chest, since this photo set was one that really made me think about things through the entire process of producing it, from functional matters on the Web site, to political issues.

Web site: "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial", as presented on Schumin Web

Song: Vietnam Memorial Wall and Korean War Memorial movie

Quote: By the way, my plan is to shoot new photos of many of the subjects from both "The Schumin Web Salutes America" photo sets and present them as standalone subjects as I did with this set, and then retire the two older photo sets. I do like the new Photography set presentation, and I think it looks quite elegant.

Categories: Schumin Web meta